The Benchman: Europa League requires revamp

Can you name this former goalkeeper? Tweet your answer @FalkirkHeraldSp
Can you name this former goalkeeper? Tweet your answer @FalkirkHeraldSp

The Benchman is scathing of the quality of teams in the Europa League and recalls the days when only one shop in Falkirk sold football strips.

THE IRISH CONNECTION: There are unconfirmed rumours of some ‘pirate teams’ of Scottish professionals playing in an Irish Summer League back in the ‘60s, in the days before mobile phones could take photographic evidence of their misdemeanours. Were any Falkirk players involved? Now that would be telling, wouldn’t it.


Some of the teams in the Europa League draw would struggle to hold down a place in the Juniors

ROLL UP, ROLL UP: Every season, I place a roll-up bet on the four league winners in Scotland - and a bet on Falkirk winning the Scottish Cup. As you can imagine, the odds are good and I imagine collecting my winnings in a wheelbarrow at the end of May. Last year, I managed a £6.50 return thanks to the successes of Celtic and Morton. The bookie was hardly sweating, as one by one my selections failed to sustain their early season promise. Anyway here goes my selections for the season ahead: Celtic, Falkirk, Stranraer and Queen’s Park.

NEW KITS: It seems only yesterday that Dillons shop in the High Street was the only place you could buy football tops. The choice was extremely limited and the first one I can remember seeing was an Arsenal one with a picture of John Charles inside the package. Now the arrival of a new kit calls for a ‘photo opportunity’, and thousands of supporters shell out a small fortune to ensure they have the very latest in tops. How you can walk about with adverts for pay day loan companies and betting firms splattered all across your front beats me. I liked the old cotton tops - with collars and rubber buttons - where there were no adverts and there were real club colours - and they lasted. If you ever wondered why Mike Ashley is so rich, just look at the crowds at the next televised Newcastle game. Wall to wall black and white stripes.

ANSWERS: Last week’s mystery picture was of the legendary Celtic keeper John Thomson, who was tragically killed in an accidental collision during a game. The man who succeeded Reggie Smith as manager was Tommy Younger.

PRE-SEASON ODDS: Surprised that the bookies have us at 33/1 for the title – level with Queen of the South. Even more surprising is that they see Livingston as the favourites to finish bottom. Mind you, some of them were taking bets on John Baird, Mark Kerr and Owen Tudor Jones scoring in the recent Hampden final.

SMELLS LIKE? We have added a range of scents to help jog football memories for people living with dementia. So far we have Dubbin, Bovril, pipe tobacco, wintergreen and newly-cut grass.

TEASER: From which club did Falkirk sign keeper Matt Glennon?

EUROPA LEAGUE: Is it really worth losing money playing these preliminary ties in the far reaches of the continent with players who are not yet match fit? Some of the teams in the draw would struggle to hold down a place in the Juniors.

MYSTERY PIC: Can you name the former Hibernian and Falkirk goalkeeper pictured above? Tweet your answer @FalkirkHeraldSp